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EARLY MORNING STROLL, Petit Dejuner, MARKETS, too many Baguettes

Stumbling out into the windy morning, it was our day to get café grand noir and a “une noisette” with croissant at the port.  Something different.


Croissants (Photo credit: rofi)

Breaking the routine is always good.  Ahhh, it’s almost not winter because people are here and milling about which is not what we’ve been seeing for 3 months atleast.     It’s been QUIET!!   We like it that the temps are a bit warmer, even though we still need  2 hot water bottles in the bed before climbing in.   And it is necessary to hang up our pajamas by the heater under the window or we freeze getting into them.  And, we do that same thing with our clothes in the morning before the coffee is ready or before much of anything, while we stay under the warm covers.   Putting on clothes that don’t freeze your body is a good thing.   The closet where our clothes stay could be used for hanging meat!    We do not know what is on the other side of that closet…the proprietor’s Cave?  Their basement?  Their outside wall ?  We just don’t know.

After drinking our little cafes and chewing on a fresh croissant and watching the boats move briskly back and forth in front of us, we see the fisherman have come in with their daily catch and now engaged in brisk talk and flipping the fresh fish over to scale and de-gut them …….it’s always fun to watch people buying their supremely fresh fish.  One day I’ll be brave enough to try this ( gutting and all). ;-/  ?



Marseille (Photo credit: potomo


We walk towards the Marie (Town Hall) to find the number for my new French school – and it’s close by our apartment and it starts next Thursday.  Very excited.  This one is “Gratuit” – free.   Yeah.

After finding great items at the outdoor vetements market (clothing) for upcoming birthday gifts for 3 members of my family, we head over to the fresh CHEESES.  Dressed in white butcher’s coat and full of energy he beckons us over to try a sample.  It’s  (VERY FRESH) gorgonzola. I think it just came out of the cow.  We tried it and bought a little over a gram. (2 euros)  – Not very much but enough for what we need it for – salads and fresh bread.


Kids Clothing

The pain (bread)  we bought is virtually gone now.

This is the problem in going to the markets.  The baguettes  are so fresh, that the top is bitten off – by  everyone. It’s a French thing.

Español: 3 baguettes

We do this, but we don’t stop at the tip, we continue on eating it until it’s virtually a stub and then we have to go to the other market – the typical grocer’s – and buy , alas, another baquette.  It’s okay.  We have friends at Marche U and like to say hello to them and speak our lousy french.   One is the butcher who so perfectly sharpens my professional knife.   (Gratuit) FREE – because they are just that way here.  We bring him a gift from the US.   They are very kind in this shop – and  patient when we speak our French.    It’s going to be a very good day.  It already is !!! We get back to the little “Les Romarins” apartment and – SIX  separate little letters arrived in one big envelope from my grands today!!!
How lucky can a BABCIA get?!?!

PAGNOL – and Peanut Butter

Marcel Pagnol, whose plays and films were the ...

Marcel Pagnol, whose plays and films were the source material for Port of Seven Seas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





Finishing the very last of the AMERICAN Peanut Butter (Crunchy) on a piece of breakfast baguette , we sit on a big rock on that trail that Marcel Pagnol


used to walk and play as a boy and wrote  about as a gifted adult.    The apple stolen from the IBIS hotel (last week) is also smeared with the remaining peanut butter and we are having just a fine ‘ole time up in these hills.   IMG_8998  The hot sun on our faces is such a welcome after a cold cold winter (for the SOUTH), and now the cool air complements the sun.    We have just walked about 30 minutes and have another 45 minutes to go. But we also know that when the brochures, the signs or the “Randonnee maps” say a particular time, we , the  “Two Seniors that are not living life as a usual AARP members” STILL have to add about another 45 minutes to their schedule.   IMG_8996


Doesn’t matter, what we see by HIKING, or “faire de la randonnee” (to go trekking)  is more than ever expected.   Walking even around our little neighborhood this morning before we left for La Treille, we saw so many things, trees, bushes, Mediterranean vistas, architecture, more trees, than we had ever discovered whizzing past by our  little used voiture.  HA!   But ofcourse!


On our way to Le Treille, An hour earlier,  we stopped at LA SOURCE, to fill up our JERRYCAN with the best FREE drinking water full of minerals, calcium and magnesium ,                IMG_2666


( contains no nitrates) and  barium, (an alkaline-earth metal with anti-acid properties that is rarely found in such concentrations.)  This spring water is particularly light.  Did I say it was FREE?


This spring, whose age has been determined by carbon-14 dating at between 2,500 and 7,000 years, could well be, who knows, an elixir of youth, but I’m drinking a LOT of it cause of my knees and arthritis.  I’ll keep you informed as how it goes……….    😉


Anyway, we need this water now on our trek on these hills.   It’s hard to describe, even though that is what I strive to do in my writing, but now I’m just going to post some pictures and let you determine yourself what you think of Pagnol’s countryside. IMG_8987 IMG_8986 IMG_9004


Honestly, to me, it is so beautiful  and even spiritual up here, I just shake my head in disbelief.   The other hikers so pleasant and sincere in their “BONJOUR’s “ to us and their “Bon Promenade”  (Good walking) their happy faces, it  does us so much good to be here on a weekend taking in the beauty and walking these COLLINES – these HILLS……………


I wish I could bring every single person reading this,  with me.   There is SO MUCH to show you!!!!    🙂


Vacationing in the Other South of France – Day 1 – Afternoon

Day One – VACATION TO MENTON –  – Afternoon – Apres Midi –



Menton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




After passing Frejus, and becoming very animated about that Roman town on the water, we talked about the fun things we did there just in October when Sharon visited. It was a pretty magical time, with the lights over the boats and the still bay, the roman coliseum and the amazing culinary delights.


By almost 9am our train is passing the large golf course just this side of Cannes.    Just north of here is where we really wanted to take a side trip to the small town of  Plascassier,.   Pitchoune was the name of Julia Child’s  small dwelling next to the grand Mas where her friend and co-writer of MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING also lived.

Cover of Penguin reissue with foreword by Juli...

Cover of Penguin reissue with foreword by Julia Child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arriving in Nice around 10 we got off to change trains for MENTON.  For an instant I headed towards the outside – forgetting that we were not spending the night in Nice until tomorrow night.  Lack of sleep was catching up.    When we arrived in Menton, it was not a straight to the  hotel  – like it should have been, with unpacking and a teeny rest. NO, it was a 4 hour extravaganza of ooooh’s and ahhhhhh’s as the town was so pretty and we couldn’t take our eyes off all of the lemons that created a BIG BEN, STATUE OF LIBERTY, TRAINS, etc.  Even the pharmacies were  beautiful. I had to stop and buy some “LEMON COLOGNE” in one, as this was what we were here for – the LEMON FESTIVAL. We went to the Tourist Information and bought tickets for that nights Lumination Festival.  We even stopped and ate some lunch.   But, the truth was , by this time, we were lost. Our hotel was way over on the side closest to the Italian border. I did not research this very well.  We needed to get off at MENTON-GARLAVAN, not MENTON- Ville.   So the walk from the ville towards the town, to the bus stops (several) to get to the correct hotel, took it’s toll.    David was unaffected.  (Apparantly.)


Thus, by the time we saw our coveted IBIS HOTEL, it was not what we had anticipated.


It was totally automated.  This was confusing to me because 1) I was dead tired 2) I had never, in ALL my years of crazy travels, encountered such a place.  When we could not get in to the hotel, because of numbers we needed to punch, and didn’t have, we piggybacked someone.  Then, I braved the cold and rain and did what  some other people who were standing outside were doing and that was  trying to get a room by way of AUTOMATION.  Leaving David inside to protect the bags I went out and put my card in the machine but it wouldn’t take it or any other card.  Clearly exhausted I tried to cancel the entire transaction, but it just sat there staring me in the face with the words ANNULER.  (CANCEL), but not letting me cancel.  I pulled my card out.  2 other couples came and I went back into the enclosed “Lobby” – (lobby without a HOTEL CLERK-) and waited with David and the bags.  We really needed to have a rest by this time.




The next thing I know is that the 2 couples are talking loud and motioning for me to come outside.  They were speaking very fast French and my facial expressions on a slow French day are easily interpreted as “I AM LISTENING TO YOUR EVERY WORD BUT DON’T REALLY GET YOU” – so with these fast French words flying in my face, undoubtedly my eyes  glazed over by now.  When they started in on me, They were saying things that went like this:




Nous avons payé pour votre chambre! Vous avez une chambre! Regardez! elle est ici. Il est _____ chambre 401____. Vous avez eu une carte là-dedans, mais vous l’ai sorti et maintenant nous avons payé pour votre chambre. Et maintenant, vous avez besoin de payer US. Nous sommes dans la chambre 350.




(We just paid for your room!  You have a room!  Look! here it is .  It is room _____401____.   You had a card in there, but you took it out and now we have paid for your room.   And now,  you need to pay US.   We are in room  350.   )




David is back behind the glass guarding the bags and I am FREAKING out!!! I  really need him to get out here and talk to these people.


They were speaking so fast.    I got the gist of the conversation, but wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do.  Stop and give them cash right there?  I had not that much cash with me.


Neither did David.  So, what to do?  David comes out and talks to them – about this being a huge “Malentendu” – misunderstanding – and they agree, but  just  want to get their money back for OUR  room!


It was a faulty machine in the first place for it to charge the next person coming up to check in – when it would not even cancel my transaction.  I had stood there for more then 5 minutes waiting for it to “cancel”.  Now, it charges strangers for our room .  oooooh la la – what a mess.




Long story short, we ended up going to a bank – to withdraw money in which to pay these nice french people.   David and this other French gentlemen discussed the big game on Saturday all the way down to the bank.

I suggest that in the future if you do book a hotel on line – read the fine print, and I do mean FINE, and all the way to the bottom because even though it didn ‘t say this hotel was “automated” it did say the hotel clerk was only available from 9-11A and 4P-6P.
Had I seen that – read that – it would have made this stay a teeny easier to reconcile plus I might have opted for another hotel where I could speak to someone.  Being exhausted doesn’t help either.




The evening went not much better.  Our LEMON FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS was cancelled due to rain.

La fête du citron á Menton

La fête du citron á Menton (Photo credit: Fredrik Enestad)

But the turning point, was all in the beauty of the French people.  We decided to hit the creperie/bar that we had visited  on our arrival to Menton where we had an espresso and “noisette” and read the local news.    The owner asked us to come back after the festival for his crepes – his specialty.  So, when the festival was cancelled, we did walk back there in the rain.  It was quiet, and there were no crepes in the case like before, so we almost turned around to leave.   But the owner saw David and gave him the biggest smile and waved us back in – So, we did!  We didn’t get our crepes  but we did get a beer and a Pastis and talked to the locals for almost an hour.  Very fun. Then we needed them to call us a taxi but one of the locals there was a taxi driver, and said he would take us.   He was French/Italian.  He was the most fun cab driver back to the AUTOMATED HELL HOTEL – as he SANG all the way back – so much so that the windows fogged up and no one could see out least of all him.  Consequently,  he went around and around the little turn – when we knew that he had passed our hotel about 3 times. It wasn’t to charge us more money.  It was because he was so into his serenading us he didn’t want to stop.  At one point in the song __ZUKERO ( I still have to find this song) there is a chorus of AMEN AMEN – and it’s really beautiful.  We sang with him each time he came to the chorus.  It was such hilarious fun. He also started speaking SPANISH to David and they were discussing the D.R. and the TRUJILLO days…….oooooh la la (again)……. By the time he finally did stop in front of the hotel, the cost of the taxi ride was a third less than the original taxi had been earlier.  He hugged us both goodbye when we left him and invited us for a free drink at his little bar in Monaco,  (SANGRIL) the next time we came there.  What a beautiful person, so happy in his work , not taking advantage of us, and serenading us to the max in the taxi.    It was an unexpected magical time when the afternoon had not gone so well.   You win some. You lose some.  This was a winner.






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